Dr Martin Warner, newly appointed Bishop of Chichester responded to the damning report on child abuse within the Chichester Diocese by saying there was much to learn from past mistakes, and hopes that the diocese will now enter a new era.
Dr Warner said: “We have much to learn from all that has happened and must be humble in doing so, accepting our failures, responding with honesty and penitence, and demonstrating proper and appropriate engagement with those who are the victims of criminal and sub-Christian behaviour.
“But the future of the diocese cannot be determined by the failures of the past. Review and vigilance will be required of us at all times in the matter of safety and welfare for those who are young and vulnerable.
“We are determined that this is a diocese in which the vulnerable will feel safe and will be safe. A new era has begun.”
In May last year, a review found serious failings in the senior clergy after two priests were allowed to continue working despite being accused of serious child abuse offences.
Dr Rowan Williams, who set up an inquiry into child protection policies in the diocese, said the interim report “confirms that there have been many and longstanding failures in implementing a robust and credible safeguarding policy in the Diocese of Chichester.”
Colin Pritchard was the vicar of St Barnabas in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, until 2007, despite having been first reported to police over sex offences 10 years earlier. He was later jailed for sexually abusing two young boys.
One of the boys was also abused by Roy Cotton, who worked as a parish priest in Brede near Rye, but prosecutors decided there was not enough evidence to charge him before he died in September 2006.
Dr Warner said he is fully committed to implementing the recommendations outlined in the Archbishop’s Interim Report so that abuse survivors know there is complete transparency concerning any abuse that has already taken place.
For more see Thursday’s Chichester Observer.